Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Barnet barney, Nesbitt speaks and Everton fan's dream comes true

Monday 15th News Letter Image copyright News Letter

An election campaign can be a hairy enough time without added stress, but a barnet barney between the DUP and Sinn Féin is threatening to overshadow the upcoming vote judging by Monday's newspapers.

The front pages of both the Belfast Telegraph and Irish News zero in on the fallout from Arlene Foster's description of Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill as "blonde".

The former first minister told a Sunday newspaper that Mrs O'Neill "presents herself very well" and that "you never see her without her make up".

"Foster stands ground in sexism spat" says the Belfast Telegraph while the Irish News' snappy headline says it's "another crocodile moment", referencing Mrs Foster's previous animal-themed comments about her political rivals.

According to the Telegraph, Sinn Féin have demanded an apology for the "sexist and disparaging remarks" but the DUP is having none of it.

"Nothing that was said was offensive or intended to be so and Sinn Féin have a cheek demanding an apology. Indeed they would be better served examining some of their recent words and deeds and the impact that has had on the people of Northern Ireland," a party statement said.

In the Irish News, Northern Ireland's other female political leader, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, was unimpressed.

"I think it is disappointing that anyone in leadership, but especially a woman, would opt to describe another female leader in terms solely of her appearance.

"You simply could not imagine such comments about male politicians, which makes it all the more demeaning. It trivialises woman in politics."

Image caption Mike Nesbitt has broken his silence over that photo

Meanwhile, Mike Nesbitt, a former political leader, is making headlines in the Belfast Telegraph after breaking his silence over that photo of him apparently lying on a hotel floor.

In a statement, he said it was "just a bit of fun, banter and play-acting".

Mr Nesbitt spoke out after the Sunday Life tracked down the woman from the photo, who was apparently pulling at Mr Nesbitt's collar as he lay on the floor - Marie Hyland, a great-grandmother in her 70s.

Ms Hyland told the newspaper that the whole thing was a joke "blown up out of all proportion".

In Monday's Daily Mirror, friends of one of the Disappeared, Capt Robert Nairac, have appealed for the killers to reveal the location of his body 40 years on from his murder.

Capt Nairac is now one of three Disappeared whose bodies have not yet been found, after the discovery of the remains of Seamus Ruddy earlier this month.

Friend and ex-MP Patrick Mercer said that Capt Nairac's "gallantry needs to be recognised with a proper grave".

Another family appealing over the loss of a loved one is that of murder victim Eamonn Magee Jr - the Irish News reports that they are unhappy with the 14-year sentence given to his killer and have described it as a "joke".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The parents of Eamonn Magee Jr want an appeal against the "lenient" sentence given to his killer

Mr Magee's father, former boxer Eamonn Magee, called for an appeal against the "lenient" sentence, as first reported in the Sunday Life.

"I was expecting at least 20 years as the murder was pre-meditated, a knife was used and Eamonn was stabbed six times. I couldn't believe it when the judge said 14 years."

Over in Monday's News Letter, Theresa May's surprise Saturday visit to the Balmoral Show gets plenty of coverage.

Across pages two and three, the paper reports her view that "legacy issues have to be addressed fairly".

She also defended the independence of prosecutors who are considering charging 18 soldiers in connection with the Bloody Sunday killings.

"Prosecutors are independent and they will make their decisions, rightly, absolutely independently," she said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Everton defender Seamus Coleman was instrumental in Daire Flanagan's dream-come-true trip to Goodison Park

Sticking with Balmoral, the News Letter says that this year's extended edition, with the addition of a fourth day, means that visitor numbers have exceeded 100,000.

"The additional footfall we've seen with the extra day this year had made the decision to commit to a Saturday opening extremely worthwhile," said Colin McDonald from the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS).

And finally, it was also a good weekend for a young boy who had the opportunity to meet his footballing heroes on Friday according to the Daily Mirror.

Seven-year-old Daire Flanagan, from Belfast, has Apert Syndrome, a rare condition which causes the premature fusion of skull bones. But a few days ago, he got to travel to Goodison Park to not only see his favourite team Everton, but to lead them out as their mascot.

Republic of Ireland international Seamus Coleman was instrumental in helping the dream become reality after he donated £5,000 to a fundraising campaign.

"I'm honestly lost for words," said Daire's mother, Colette. "We are just a normal family from Belfast. And to have someone so famous to donate and help Daire, it is just unbelievable."